This was my one super ambitious project for Caelan’s birthday party. Decorated sugar cookies are everywhere on baking blogs lately and I’ve wanted to give them a try, plus I received Sesame Street cookie cutters for Christmas, and this just seemed like an obvious thing for me to do, so I went for it.
Let me say that I’m glad I made these cookies and I’m pleased with how they turned out, but I think it’s really unlikely that I’ll make them again. I made them over the course of 3 days and if I add up all the time, it took me about 10-11 hours total to make, decorate, and package 3 dozen cookies.
Before I started, I hunted down a recipe for sugar cookies. Obviously there are millions of them, but I wanted to find one that specifically said that the cookies would hold their shape after baking. This was important since the cookie cutters I was using were detailed. I ended up with this recipe and the cookies DID hold their shape perfectly, and they WERE delicious (if a bit hard to bite into). But the process of making them…omg. I read the recipe beforehand but I should have thought about it and tried to find a recipe with less steps! First, the dough had to be made and that was easy. I made 1.5 batches since I wasn’t exactly sure how many cookies a batch would make. It turned out that I need not have done that since 1 recipe yielded about 40 3-4″ diameter cookies and I was shooting for 3 dozen. So now I have a half batch of dough in my freezer (certainly not a tragedy, but read on).
I made up the dough and put it in the fridge overnight since it needed to be chilled. The next day I was to roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and 2 quarter inch wooden dowels to ensure an even thickness. First of all, I skipped the dowels, although it might have been nice to have something to stab myself in the eye with a few minutes later. The instructions warned that rolling the dough would require “elbow grease” for the first few minutes since the dough was cold. I think trying to roll out an ice cube into a sheet of ice would be an accurate analogy for how it really was – slippery and comically impossible. I ended up breaking up the dough and kneading it by hand for several minutes before I even had a hope of rolling it out. Once it was rolled out, I followed the instructions to refrigerate the rolled out dough for 15 minutes. Then I cut out the shapes. Then I put it in the freezer for 15 minutes, then into the oven for the suggested 12-14 minutes – only it took more like 20-22 minutes. The baking process took WAY too long and I was very frustrated because I hadn’t even got to the “hard part” of decorating the cookies yet!
The next day, I spent 5 hours decorating the cookies (I had already made up most of the royal icing the day before). This step, which I had expected to be the most difficult and most frustrating was actually very easy and stress-free, for which I was incredibly thankful. I was really surprised! I used a tutorial from Annie’s Eats which was great. Royal icing is forgiving and easy to thicken or thin as needed. It was just very time consuming.
By the end of the day I had Elmo and Cookie Monster cookies ready to go for Caelan’s party so I’m happy with how it all turned out! I even made enough to bring into Caelan’s daycare the following week so all of the kids could get hopped up on sugar like Caelan was on Saturday 🙂